This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.
By Laura J. Downey
I am not perfect. As much as I like to cross every T and dot every I, I make mistakes. And this past week, I made some food choices that I classify as BIG mistakes. So right now, I’m feeling bad for the choices I made. This is because when I weighed in at my usual WW (formerly Weight Watchers) meeting this past Saturday (which I attend regularly since losing over 20 pounds a couple years ago), I gained 1.6 pounds. Yes, even with all of you cheering me on, I didn’t do what I told myself I was going to do -- stick to my plan of adding more vegetables and water to my diet and cutting back on refined sugars. Although I did add some vegetables, I did not drink enough water, ate a delicious white chocolate bar, and devoured nachos at dinner with a friend one night.
I was about to go into a downward spiral (eat a huge breakfast -- grits with extra cheese, bacon, and scrambled eggs! -- at one of my favorite restaurants), but then I reached out to a WW coach for help. I drove past the restaurant and went to the grocery store to pick up strawberries for a morning smoothie instead. The coach told me I made the right decision by opting for a smoothie. She encouraged me to take what I know about this past week and turn it into future positive results. Then something clicked.
I remembered my “why.” Why I’ve committed to this path to wellness. You see, my dad’s parents died from heart attacks in their 60s. My mom’s mother died from diabetes and my mom’s father died from a heart attack; both were in their late 60s. And my sister, a 6-foot beauty, has struggled with selecting the best foods for herself over the past few years. I could blame my overeating on my family, but we all have choices to make.
In Saturday’s WW meeting, someone said, “I decided to stop making excuses.” That hit home with me. Sometimes I make excuses just so I can get my way. Other times, I make excuses because it enables me to be lazy. For example, I can reach for a bag of my favorite kettle corn instead of taking 30 minutes out of my day to make a healthy dinner.
Either way, a lot of this is mental. The WW coach said to me, “Sometimes we need the bad results so we can see how we can get the good results.” Well, I definitely needed those bad results. I’m going to give it another go this week. There is also a part of me that is freaking out internally because this is the week I go back to school. I am working on a second master’s degree, which means there are lots of books for me to read and several papers to write. Translation: I am going to want to snack while reading and writing. But the plan is to take things one day at a time. Actually, if I’m being honest here, I’ll need to take everything one choice at a time.
The day after I ate those nachos, I mentioned it to my colleague Bill Kimm, who is on this journey with me. He said, “No guilt -- well, maybe for a split second!” So now that I’ve confessed, I’m moving on. Back to working on being a better me, dropping the excuses and the negative mindset, and remembering my "why."
Laura J. Downey is the executive editor of WebMD Magazine. She hopes this blog will help others see that every small step can lead to a more well-balanced, healthful, and fulfilling life. For more on her journey, follow her on Instagram @laurakadowney.